Water woes: Roddy Ranch Golf Club in Antioch closes as the latest victim of California's drought

Even after El Nino brought much needed rain this winter, California's water woes continues to wreak havoc on golf course owners and operators.

The latest victim is Roddy Ranch Golf Club in Antioch, located 45 miles northeast of San Francisco in what locals call the "East Bay." The course will close for good after Aug. 11.

The San Jose Mercury News reported that Roddy Ranch attracted more than 40,000 rounds in recent years, but the price of water for irrigation was just too much to continue. The course was known as a value play, charging a peak rate of $45 on weekdays and $70 on weekends in 2016. From that article:

Last year our water costs went up 8 percent, and they'll keep going up," said Mark Luthman, chief operating officer of Texas-based Touchstone Golf, which operates Roddy Ranch. Keeping the course in proper condition, he said, would mean a water bill of $500,000 to $600,000 a year, which wouldn't be economically feasible. "We really need to double the water we're using, and we can't do that," Luthman said. The course's restaurant and pro shop also will close, and approximately 25 people will lose their jobs, he said. In the past 18 months, Sunol Valley near Sunol, Grayson Woods in Pleasant Hill, Springtown in Livermore and Pine Meadow in Martinez have all shut down. The Shadow Lakes course less than a mile east of Roddy Ranch is operating a partial schedule, mostly weekends. The cost and/or availability of water was cited as a key factor in every case.

"We really need to double the water we're using, and we can't do that," Luthman said.

The course's restaurant and pro shop also will close, and approximately 25 people will lose their jobs, he said.

In the past 18 months, Sunol Valley near Sunol, Grayson Woods in Pleasant Hill, Springtown in Livermore and Pine Meadow in Martinez have all shut down. The Shadow Lakes course less than a mile east of Roddy Ranch is operating a partial schedule, mostly weekends. The cost and/or availability of water was cited as a key factor in every case.

The course's Web site, www.roddyranch.com, has been shut down, leaving only a statement that reads:

The increasingly high cost of water has impacted individuals and businesses throughout the state for many years and Roddy Ranch is no exception. Ultimately the expense associated with irrigating the golf course has burdened the Club to the point that it is no longer economically feasible for the course to stay in business. We would like to thank the thousands of golfers who have enjoyed playing golf at Roddy Ranch over the years including our hundreds of loyal members.


We would like to thank the thousands of golfers who have enjoyed playing golf at Roddy Ranch over the years including our hundreds of loyal members.

Life was good when the J. Michael Poellot design of 6,976 yards first opened in 2000. The routing, carved from a working cattle ranch, got an early glowing review at GolfCalifornia.com. Owner Jack Roddy, a former national rodeo champion, said then:

"I never thought that I would some day be involved with golf, but I am lucky that I have. Not only do I make more money in a week from golfers than I did in a year with cattle, I have been able to keep this portion of my ranch as open space so that I can help generations to come see what the west was like for so many years."

Fifteen years later, Roddy will have to reinvent those 235 acres of open ranchland all over again.

Remaining options for golf in the Antioch area

Area golfers, meanwhile, will likely head to nearby courses, including Lone Tree Golf & Event Center in Antioch, Delta View Golf Course in Pittsburg, and Shadow Lakes Golf Club in Brentwood.

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 1,000 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Instagram at @jasondeegangolfadvisor and Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
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Water woes: Roddy Ranch Golf Club in Antioch closes as the latest victim of California's drought